Best All-Star game ever? We had a legend's farewell, coaches sharing words but no handshakes, two golazos and another entry in the "Landon Donovan Understands the Moment" annals.
Here are some thoughts from a 2-1 win for the MLS All-Stars over Bayern Munich:
1. Getting the Best Chance
Even with all of the above, and even with a game played at an unusual level of intensity thanks to some rough early challenges from Tim Cahill, and late challenges from Ozzie Alonso and Will Johnson, this result is insignificant.
Hold on a sec:
Osvaldo Alonso gets a YELLOW CARD IN A FRIENDLY. DRINK. #MLSAllStar— Dan Dickinson (@GothamistDan) August 7, 2014
As insignificant as the result is – and again, don't read too much into it – the players on both teams want to win. They're pros, and they're competitors, and they get paid to go out there and beat the guy standing across the white line from them.
Porter gave his team the best chance to do that.
2. Landon's Sense of the Moment
Remember what happened the game after Donovan was cut from the USMNT? He went out and scored a brace against the Philadelphia Union, moving him alone atop the list of all-time MLS scoring leaders. There were a lot of great reactions to that game, but the best came from Herculez Gomez – a guy who's played with Donovan in MLS Cups, World Cups and awful midweek regular-season matchups in front of mostly empty stadiums.
"As if there was any doubt," Gomez tweeted.
That's the level Donovan's at when it comes to nationally televised "event" games. He's scored the winning goal in three of his five MLS Cups, he's scored in the Confederations Cup final, and he's scored in five of his 12 World Cup games. He just seems to elevate his game when people are watching.
In this case, he was probably pretty certain Jurgen Klinsmann was watching, and he definitely knew Bayern Munich fans – who lustily booed him pregame – were watching.
So when he scored the game-winner past Manuel Neuer in the 70th minute, it came as no surprise to anyone who's watched Donovan's career. And it also came as no surprise that he decided to go celebrate in front of the Bayern section.
Then Porter subbed him off. It was almost as if Donovan had said, "I'm just going to play 'til I score, then I'm done – got to beat the Quakes in two days, because folks are going to be watching that one, too."
Donovan did his whole Keyser Soze thing. Came in.. scored.. "And like that...He's gone."— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 7, 2014
This is exactly where Donovan got his goal from. The 4-4-2 traditionally kills the 3-5-2 and 5-3-2, by the way. Good bet that Porter, Donovan and Valeri had discussed this very scenario.
3. Bon Voyage, Titi
Henry is just different level— Amobi Okugo (@amobisays) August 7, 2014
These were fans of the Portland Timbers and Bayern Munich, for the most part. And probably a good number of USMNT fans – casuals who have yet to develop a club affinity, but eat up the World Cup every four years. So it wasn't a group that had any special reason to appreciate Henry. But there they were, showing one of the game's all-time legends love on an epic scale.
Some bowed, some just chanted his name over and over, and some got a little bit misty.
There seems to be some momentum for changing the format of the All-Star Game next year, so Henry's farewell could be the last act for this era of touring European giants.
If that's the case, then it couldn't have been scripted better. He deserved every plaudit thrown his way tonight, and everybody who cares about the game needs to appreciate the next three months, because it looks like they'll be Henry's last.
I don't think I've ever said this about an MLS player: I hope Henry gives #MLS fans enough time to send him off properly.— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) August 7, 2014
One of the things I love best about MLS is that it's not only the league of guys like Henry and Donovan, or Valeri and Clint Dempsey: I love the fact that this is a league where reclamation projects become All-Stars. Nobody was going to give Wright-Phillips the stage in England despite years of consistent goalscoring, and Cubo at age 20 was already considered a bust for Chivas Guadalajara.
But they've come here and become indispensible parts of their respective teams, and they earned their time in the spotlight.